by Johanna Patterson
The Renault American Alliance was more than just a new car at its release. Indeed many considerred it to be an important political event, marking the strong return of Renault to the American market through the medium of its relationship with American Motors, which built the Alliance - an Americanized R9 - in its plant at Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Technically, the car was unchanged, with allround independent suspension
. The Renault
engineers had left this in its European form, rather than going for the softer American settings that could have had a disastrous effect on steering
The Renault-produced engine was the 1397-cc OHC unit, mounted crosswise with the gearbox on the end, and fitted with fuel injection, a modification for this model only. The injection equipment was by Bendix, with a Bosch version for the Californian market, where tougher emissions standards required a rather more sophisticated approach.
Power output was between 56 and 58 hp, with a compression ratio of 8.8:1. Drive was through a fouror five-speed manual box or a Renault-built automatic controlled by a microprocessor. The three-box body was unchanged from that of the R9 in general concept and was available in both two and four-door versions. Externally, the appearance had been altered by new bumpers, which increased overall length from 159.8 to 163.7 inches, a new grille with four rectangular headlamps, new body side trim, and new wheel discs.
Five trim levels were offered, together with an extensive list of options to suit American tastes. Among them were power steering
(not available in Europe), infrared remote-control door locks, complete airconditioning, cruise control, and the System Sentry, which checked on engine and gearbox oil levels, cooling system
contents, brake-pad wear, and levels of headlamp wash water, power steering
fluid and brake fluid.
However history did not judge the Alliance well, and despite it winning the auspicious Car of the Year award, the car would not live up to expectations of owners, who may have assumed that the award also reflected on the reliability of a car. Mechanical problems and indifferent workmanship were as evident on the cars built in Kenosha, as on French-built Renaults. The 1986
Consumer Reports "Annual Auto Issue" surveyed owners after five years of ownership. The 1983
Renault Alliance scored with low ratings in "engine", "clutch", "driveline", "engine cooling", "suspension
", "exhaust system", "automatic transmission
", and "manual transmission
" categories. A Car Talk survey with a total of 55 respondents, indicated low ratings, but many praised the fuel efficiency of their cars.